“Cory, will you marry me?”
The proposal is delivered as Daddy and the twins walk to school with neighbor Miss Nicole and her three kids. Her older son, five, had taken Cory’s hand as they walked along, quietly and suddenly dropping the big one as the troop approached the end of the street.
Hand comfortably in his, she smiles and responds: “I don’t know.” He asks again. Daddy and Miss Nicole exchange a look over the kids’ heads. The others are babbling about trees, birds, and boo-boos as Daddy watches Cory explain, “I don’t know. There are a lot of days between now and when I am old enough to marry someone. So, I don’t know.” Unfazed, her suitor announces that, rather than questions whether, someday they are going to get married.
C: Daddy, Pierce told me that he wants to marry me, but I just told him that I don’t know.
D: Oh, yah? Well, it’s too…
C: Because I’m too young right now to be thinking about marrying someone.
D: That’s exactly what I was going to say. But, it’s nice…
C (confident tone, extravagant arm gestures): I mean, I don’t think I’ll be ready to marry someone until I’m like twenty or fifteen or something.
D: No, probably not. You might not even be ready to marry someone until you are like thirty or something.
C: Yah, because I don’t have a house or car or dogs, so…
D: Nope, not yet. Well, you have those things because Daddy and Papa have those things.
C: But, not my own, so…and I can’t take care of a baby or something! I’m just a kid.
D: Oh, no. You can’t take care of a baby right now. Not for a long time.
F: But, you don’t have to have a baby to marry someone, right, Daddy?
D: No, you don’t.
F: Uncle Pierce and Uncle Glenn are married, but they don’t have er, uh, eh a baby, right, Daddy?
D: Right. You don’t have to have a baby to marry someone. But, you can if you want.
F: I think I want to.
C: Me, too. But, not right now because I’m just a kid.
D: Good thinkin’.
Daddy counts contemplating marrying the neighbor as progress, given earlier questions…
F: Daddy, can I marry Cory when I am er, eh, uh older?
F (disappointed): Ooooh. Why not?
D: Well, brothers and sisters don’t marry each other.
F: But, why?
D: Because when you marry someone, you are choosing them, out of all the people in the world, to share your life with, to be known together, to everyone else, as a couple. Like, Daddy and Papa. Everyone knows Daddy and Papa as Darin and Mike. Like salt and pepper.
F (funny face): Like salt and pepper!?
D: Yah, two things that go together, like salt and pepper. They go together. Miss Nicole and Mr. Jeff are known by everyone as Jeff and Nicole. Like, milk and cookies.
F (same funny face): Like milk and cookies!?
C: But, everyone knows us as Cory and Fisher, so…
D: Yah, that’s right. Everyone already knows Cory and Fisher. Because you are twins. They will know you like that because you were born together. When you each marry someone, if you decide to marry someone, everyone will know Cory together with the person she chooses, and everyone will know Fisher together with the person who he chooses. Brothers don’t need to marry sisters because they already have a special relationship.
C: Did you know Papa before you married Papa?
D: No. Well, for a little bit, but not for my whole life. I grew up in Missouri. Papa grew up in California.
C: You have to a ride a plane for a long day to go from California to Missouri, so…
F: Ooooh, I don’t want to marry a stranger from Missouri, Daddy!
D: Well, they won’t be a stranger when you marry them.
F (grunting): Yes, they will. Or Kansas or London or something.
D: Who knows where that person will come from.
F (continued grunting): They will be a stranger, and I don’t want to marry a stranger, Daddy!
D (tickling him): They won’t be a stranger, Fisher. You’ll see.
Later in the evening of the neighbor’s proposal…
F: Daddy, can I live with Cory and Pierce when I get older?
D: Well, we don’t know that Cory and Pierce are going to live together when they get older. And, you might marry someone else. So, you might want to live with that person.
F: But, can we live together with Cory?
D: Of course you can. Who knows what the future will bring.
F (smiling, reassured): Good, Daddy.
C: But, it’s going to be a lot of days before I get married, right, Daddy?
D: I think so, Cory. I think so. You have a lot to do before then.
C: Like work and high school and stuff.
D: Yup. Like work and high school and stuff.
F: I have a lot of stuff to do, too.
C: And then I can be salt and pepper with someone and get married?
C: But, Daddy?
D: Yes, Cory?
C: I don’t like pepper, so I don’t want to be salt and pepper with someone.
D: Well, you don’t like pepper on your eggs, but you might like pepper in your marriage.
F (return of the funny face): Pepper in your marriage!?
C: No, Daddy, I don’t like pepper in anything. It’s too spicy.
D: Okay. You can just be married to someone, if you want.
C (smiling, reassured): Good.